On the Agenda Today

  • 9:00 am – 12:00 pm: Integrative Medicine and MS, Allen Bowling, MD, PhD, Chair, Room 209
  • 9:00 am – 12:00 pm: Cognitive Dysfunction and Rehabilitation Techniques, John DeLuca, PhD, Chair, Room 104 C–E
  • 2:00 pm – 4:45 pm: Hot Topics in MRI and MS: Gadolinium and Brain Atrophy in Clinical Practice, David K.B. Li, MD, FRCPC and Anthony Traboulsee, MD, FRCPC, Co-Chairs, Room 209
  • 2:00 pm – 4:45 pm: Basic Immunology, Scott Newsome, DO, MSCS, FAAN, Chair, Room 104 C–E
  • 2:00 pm – 4:45 pm: Addressing Provider Burnout Through the Use of Relationship Centered Care and Communication, Matthew Sacco, PhD, Chair, Room 104 A–B
  • 6:45 pm – 7:45 pm: Poster Session, Hall A

MS Care Professionals Need Better Understanding of Medical Marijuana to Address Patient Demand

Alternative medicine authority Allen Bowling, MD, PhD, urged healthcare professionals to further educate themselves on cannabinoids in order to help meet the growing demand by patients for scientifically accurate information about this treatment modality in MS.Patricia K. Coyle, MD“Eighty-nine percent of residents and fellows are not prepared to recommend cannabis use to patients, and 33% are not at all prepared to answer any questions about the plant,” said Allen Bowling, MD, PhD, during a lecture at the Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centers’ (CMSC) 32nd Annual Meeting on Wednesday, May 30. “In addition, 80% of dispensary staff have no medical or scientific training, yet 94% are providing advice about specific products.”

“There are 3 Cannabis universes: medical, pharmaceutical, and recreational use,” said Dr. Bowling. Although recreational is still the biggest of the three, medical marijuana use by patients is expanding rapidly, especially since it is now legal in most states for medical treatment of multiple sclerosis (MS). He added that there is a huge demand among the general public and people with MS for scientifically accurate information on the use of medical marijuana.

A leading expert on the use of alternative medicine in MS, Dr. Bowling stressed that healthcare professionals need a greater understanding of the effects of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), cannabidiol (CBD), synthetic THC, and other cannabinoids in order to provide patients with sufficient information to make informed decisions. “Cannabis is an umbrella term," he said, but cannabis does not necessarily equate to marijuana. "There is some debate, but many botanists will agree there is only one species of cannabis with many different subspecies and varieties,” Dr. Bowling told the packed lecture room. Different parts of the plant can have different levels of THC, but the psychoactive ingredient is most concentrated in the sticky resin located in the flower head.

Although there are a myriad of studies discussing the safety and effectiveness of marijuana in MS, these findings do not necessarily apply to the specific Cannabis products sold in U.S. dispensaries, Dr. Bowling noted. He urged attendees to learn more about marijuana use in general and the substances that their patients are able to obtain locally.

© 2018, Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centers. All rights reserved. None of the contents may be reproduced in any form without prior written permission from the publisher. The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the presenters and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or recommendations of their affiliated institutions, the publisher, or Genentech.

Patricia K. Coyle, MD

Patricia K. Coyle, MD

Patricia K. Coyle, MD

Patricia K. Coyle, MD

Patricia K. Coyle, MD